New York City Mayor Eric Adams has announced the appointment of, and sworn in, Laura Kavanagh as commissioner of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). Kavanagh brings years of experience building a safer and more efficient department and city government to keep New Yorkers safe, previously serving as first deputy commissioner and, most recently, as acting-fire commissioner. As FDNY commissioner, Kavanagh will oversee the day-to-day administration of the agency’s 17,000 employees and $2 billion budget.
Commissioner Kavanagh has been a key leader in the agency’s response to major incidents, including the Ebola outbreak of 2015 and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as spearheading key policy initiatives for the FDNY. Kavanagh directed the firefighter recruitment campaign that yielded the most diverse applicant pool in the department’s history and has led to more women serving as FDNY Firefighters than ever before. She also paved the way for technology innovation through the development of applications that provide situational awareness to frontline members, created a fire safety program that installed and distributed smoke alarms in the most at-risk neighborhoods, and has advocated for first responders at all levels of government.
Before serving at the FDNY, Kavanagh worked at City Hall as a special assistant to Mayor de Blasio. Previously, she worked in management and campaign consulting with non-profits, community-based organizations, and unions to advance their organizational goals. In that time, she held senior roles on presidential, mayoral, congressional, and local campaigns.
Kavanagh is an alumnus of the Executive Leaders Program at the Naval Post Graduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security and the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Summer Institute. She has a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Whittier College and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
“Laura Kavanagh is a proven and tested leader, and I’m proud to announce her historic appointment today,” said Mayor Adams.“No matter her role, Commissioner Kavanagh has always been a leader — from helping to lead the FDNY’s response to the Ebola outbreak in 2015 to steering the ship during the COVID-19 pandemic, to directing a firefighter recruitment program that resulted in the most diverse applicant pool in the department’s history. New Yorkers and New York City’s ‘Bravest’ deserve an exceptional leader and Commissioner Kavanagh has the vision, the skills, and the compassion to lead the FDNY into the future.”
“Commissioner Kavanagh has the expertise needed to lead the FDNY and make this department the best it can be,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III. “I’ve had the privilege of working alongside the commissioner this year and look forward to continuing to do so to support our ‘Bravest’ and keeping our city safe.”
“For nearly a decade, I have served, learned from and worked on behalf of the New York City Fire Department. I have seen the sacrifices our men and women make, the talent and training they possess, and the bravery they display saving lives and protecting our city. This is the greatest city in the world and the greatest fire department in the world. To serve both is the honor of a lifetime,” said FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. “I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to lead this great department, and I thank the more than 17,000 Firefighters, EMTs, Paramedics, Fire Marshals, Fire Inspectors and civilian personnel for all they do 24/7 to keep our city safe.”